MINISTER of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Malam Musa Bello, informed the Senate, yesterday, that the ministry spent N28.5billion on sundry activities to tackle the coronavirus pandemic within Abuja, especially during the lockdown.
Briefing members of the Senate Committee on FCT during the presentation of the revised 2020 Budget of the ministry, the minister said the fund was spent on provision of security services, provision of palliatives for indigent residents, as well as assisting neighboring states who were distressed.
He added that the FCT health facility supported residents from states where the level of government assistance was low and that the territory also provided healthcare services for both residents and non-residents of the city.
These, according to him, took a tremendous toll on the financial resources of the FCT, observing that a lot was done on the provision of palliatives for the masses, especially as help was not forthcoming from anywhere when the COVID-19 crisis started.
While requesting that the FCT Ministry’s budget be reviewed to reflect the realities on the ground with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bello said the territory realized N136billion from various sources, representing 54 percent of the N232.8billion earlier projected by the agency.
He said the review which the FCT is seeking senate approval for in its budget was to take care of the key areas that must be sustained despite COVID-19, adding that almost all areas of the budget had been cut by 50 per cent, except areas that have a direct bearing on human lives, such as school feeding programme, salaries, grants, among others.
The minister explained further that N61billion has been proposed for capital projects, especially because of the need to continue the execution of key ongoing projects.
He said that 97.1 percent has been spent on recurrent budget, just as he stated that most 2020 capital projects have been rolled over to 2021 in the revised budget to be sent to the National Assembly for consideration.
In his remarks, the chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Abubakar Kyari (APC Borno North), commended the FCT over its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, saying the prediction from the Western countries were gloomy for Nigeria.
He said the level of death predicted by the west did not take place as predicted because of the policies and strategy provided by the FCT Minister, adding that the Senate is appreciative of his contributions and efforts to ensure that COVID-19 did not spread across the federal capital.
He, therefore, assured the minister that the Senate committee will expeditiously consider the revised budget of the FCT and send it to the Senate for approval.
Kyari also requested that the 2021 Budget of the territory be prepared and submitted early enough for quick passage by the Senate in meeting up with the January to December budget implementation cycle started this year.